Julia Gillard reaches out to Christian leaders

The Australian

Julia Gillard has reassured leaders of Australia's 20 major Christian churches that she supports traditional values and freedom of religion, and is listening to their concerns about the Greens' social agenda on legalising same-sex marriage and euthanasia. The Christian leaders urged the Prime Minister to ensure that freedom of religion in public continued to be protected by law and a clear human right. Ms Gillard repeated her personal opposition to same-sex marriage and euthanasia, while the church leaders told her of their concerns about changes to the anti-discrimination act that could make it more difficult for Christian schools to hire on the basis of religion.

Bob Brown returns fire on 'obnoxious' Julia Gillard

The Australian

Greens leader Bob Brown has labelled Julia Gillard's claim his party is out of touch as "obnoxious, quite insulting and unacceptable" and demanded a face-to-face meeting to settle the row. Mr Brown slammed the Prime Minister's claim in a speech last Thursday that the Greens would never embrace "Labor's delight" at sharing the values of average Australians who led "purposeful and dignified lives, driven by love of family and nation". He said her comments, whilst delivering the Gough Whitlam Oration, had been a "huge mistake" and accused her of "very clearly turning both barrels on her supporters in government".

Greens' new MP in storm on Israel

The Australian

A second NSW Greens politician has been accused of dissembling over the party's policy towards Israel. Influential union and ALP figure Paul Howes said newly elected state MP Jamie Parker may have misled him over inflammatory remarks about sections of the Jewish community. Mr Parker, who narrowly won the Sydney seat of Balmain from Labor's Verity Firth, yesterday did not deny claims he made sweeping remarks about Jews in an interview with online publication NewMatilda last week. But Mr Howes, the national secretary of the Australian Workers Union, yesterday reaffirmed to The Australian that Mr Parker had denied making the comments when the union leader confronted him about the original NewMatilda article.

I can win the regions, new leader Campbell Newman tells LNP

The Australian

Campbell Newman has moved to placate concerns he is too focused on Brisbane, telling his Liberal National Party colleagues he has the experience to win over the regions. The former Brisbane lord mayor was quizzed on his regional credentials in the LNP state parliamentary partyroom yesterday, after he was elected unopposed as leader. Mr Newman's prospective parliamentary colleagues -- he will not join them unless he can win the Labor-held seat of Ashgrove at the next state election -- asked him what support he could offer Queensland's regional and rural areas.

Ten grooming Bolt for talk show debut

The Australian

Conservative columnist Andrew Bolt has made a pilot for a Sunday morning talk show on the Ten Network that is set to rival the ABC's Insiders. It is understood the program with the Herald Sun columnist may be announced as early as Thursday at Ten's teleconference to reveal its first-half results. Sources said a keen advocate of the show was Ten board member and Australia's richest woman, Gina Rinehart, who is a fan of Bolt's work. Ms Rinehart took a 10 per cent stake in the network late last year.

Pro-lifers in Nevah-Nevah land

Daily Telegraph

With pop star Justin Bieber's ill-fated turn as a pro-life campaigner now mercifully on hold, the mantle of pious and simplistic moral crusader has been safely returned to our very own Reverend Fred Nile. After Bieber's naive response to an abortion question in Rolling Stone magazine earlier this year sparked a fierce backlash, the Canadian teen has since quietly distanced himself from his remarks. While undoubtedly he privately maintains his own views - and is entitled to do so - Bieber has learned the hard way that seeking to reduce a complex issue to just-say-no pontificating is insulting to all concerned.

Woman pleads guilty ahead of euthanasia retrial


A Sydney woman who was to face a manslaughter retrial after her partner took a euthanasia drug has instead pleaded guilty to aiding or abetting suicide. Shirley Justins, 62, has served a periodic detention sentence she was given in 2008 after her partner, Graeme Wylie, died from a lethal dose of the barbiturate Nembutal. She was granted a retrial after it was found the trial judge erred in his directions to the jury. She will be sentenced for her latest plea in May.

Am I my Palestinian brother’s keeper?

On-line Opinion

In December 2010 Marrickville Council (representing various suburbs in the inner-west of Sydney) voted to support the global ‘Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions Campaign’ (BDS) against the Israeli government, aimed at ending the Palestinian Occupation. In the months that followed, and most especially in the lead-up to the State election in the March 2011, Council’s pro-BDS stand came under increasing criticism. Councillors who were party members were put under pressure to publicly withdraw their support for the campaign by senior party officials. Others were threatened with various forms of legal action. Almost all were threatened with physical violence via anonymous calls and emails. Some critics attacked the BDS campaign itself as being naïve or misguided. The majority though simply attacked the presumption of Council for meddling in international affairs when such issues should be left to the federal government’s Department of Foreign Affairs.